Monday, October 19, 2009

Code Crackers Challenge: Round One

Ok's something that I've been wanting to do for some time, but am just finally getting around to: a series on encoding and decoding data.

I've always had an interest in "breaking secret codes" etc. which has led me to creating those secret codes and encryption techniques. Some of you may already know I've done a bit of code-creating. My March Madness bracket spreadsheet is protected using my own code and methodology.

I have a hunch that there's a group of code-cracking geeks out there like me just waiting to be challenged. So here's the challenge:

  • I'm going to provide an encrypted message.

  • You may ask questions (use the blog's comment feature so all can see and benefit from the answers).

  • I'll give answers and hints as I feel appropriate.

  • The first person to submit via the comment feature the message "Excel_Geek, I have cracked your code." encoded using the same technique I've used wins. (This helps prevent "brute force" type attacks, which tend to give answers without knowing how they were derived.)

What do you win? I dunno...let's about your pick between two free $50 Projects or 2 free hours of Excel consulting/instruction via Skype? Oh, and you'll obviously also be held out as the Code Cracking Champion (if that's meaningful to you).

So here is the Code Crackers Challenge Round One Encoded Message:

R0#4y,4y, y3'44yudiyI'*/46%my)-48&4x

I also feel compelled to give you a first hint, and it's been encrypted using the same technique (which is also kind of a hint in and of itself!):

P$/.s0+2%,. s12 ./s$%s&. 2,.e

So...pass this along to your code-cracking geek friends and family. Ask questions. I'll do the best i can to respond to each question, though not always as directly as you'll probably hope.

Good Luck!



Excel_Geek said...

So here's a question/clue sequence I just had via my chat thingy:

[14:44] meeboguest774503: another clue on the code cracking challenge ? I'm tearing my hair out here !
[14:44] excel_geek: ok
[14:44] excel_geek: do you have a specific question to ask?
[14:46] excel_geek: still there?
[14:47] meeboguest774503: yes
[14:47] meeboguest774503: seems to be a 3 letter sequence (4y,) that is repeated 2x sequentially
[14:48] meeboguest774503: plus also a double letter (44) combination which can only be ss ee tt ff ll mm oo
[14:49] meeboguest774503: doesnt seem to be a simple letter substitution, nor a vigenere type cipher
[14:49] meeboguest774503: and the 2 clues use the same routine BUT don't seem to share many letters in common
[14:49] meeboguest774503: .[end].
[14:50] excel_geek: ok...
[14:50] excel_geek: the last thing you said is on the right track
[14:50] excel_geek: they use the same technique
[14:50] excel_geek: but the results of that technique vary based on each message
[14:51] excel_geek: (that may have been a big clue)
[14:52] meeboguest774503: normal character set [a..z] or [A..Z,a..z,0..9] ?
[14:52] excel_geek: numbers, lower and upper case letters, punctuation marks
[14:53] meeboguest774503: guessed so as use asc 32 thru 121 to encode (121=y so more than likely uses up to 122
[14:53] meeboguest774503: =z
[14:58] meeboguest774503: cipher key something to do with length of string to be encoded ?
[14:59] excel_geek: no

Anonymous said...

its a long shot...


Excel_Geek said...

Not correct. However, something about this tells me you're on the right track. Look at the clues I gave before...particularly the middle part of the chat conversation...